Snow tests UNO’s closure procedures

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By Jeff Jazmierski, Copy Editor

Early this semester, the worst snowstorm of the year swept across Omaha. Weather forecasters predicted over 12 inches of snow overnight, with more expected the next day. 

Schools across the city closed in anticipation of the storm. Soon, all but three – UNO, University of Nebraska Medical Center and Creighton University – sent notices that they wouldn’t be open the next day. 

The storm was impressive. Road crews struggled to keep up with the steady, heavy dumping, and in some places, plows didn’t even bother running. Motorists were warned to stay off the streets and interstates for their own safety. The next day, road crews worked tirelessly to deal with the mess of snow,  ice and accidents that had happened the previous night. Despite the dangerous conditions, UNO stayed open.

It’s not as though we didn’t have any warning. And snowfall in Nebraska in February isn’t exactly unprecedented. So, despite the clear warnings of the storm, three of Omaha’s major universities put the safety of their faculty, staff and students at risk by staying open. This was unwise and unnecessary.

I’m not trying to beat a dead horse. The UNO administration has already been roundly criticized by students on its Facebook page and by this paper in a staff editorial on Feb. 3. But I do think they need to be reminded that although education is important and the decision to close school in inclement weather is not one to be taken lightly, sometimes it’s necessary. 

When severe weather strikes, and the authorities are telling everyone to stay home, school officials need to consider those facts when making their decision.  I hope they’ve learned from their mistake and won’t repeat it next winter.

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